Pyromania is one of those landmark albums that every rock fan should own: Over 10 million copies sold, 3 classic hit singles, and a sound that at the time was so new and fresh that everybody took notice. This is before Rick Allen's accident, before Steve Clark's death, and before Def Leppard had any serious hits. 3 would prove to be their lucky number when they set down to record their third album.
This reissue sounds fantastic. It brings the glory of Mutt Lange's groundbreaking production into daylight. The liner notes (by one of my favourite writers, Rolling Stone's David Fricke) reveal Mutt's obsession: At one point the band were laying down entire chords one note at a time in order to get the right amount of power. Their goal was to create an album that nobody had made before, and they succeeded. (Hard to believe that they would pull off the same stunt twice, and do it again on Hysteria, as different from Pyromania as it was from the bands that copied Pyromania!)
Unlike the Hysteria and Adrenalize Deluxe Editions, with Pyromania there were no extra tracks lying around unreleased, and no B-sides available. (The liner notes reveal that an 11th song was written, but not much else.) Instead the bonus second CD is filled with an awesome sounding show from the Pyromania tour. It's important to remember that no live albums or videos were released by Def Leppard until post-Hysteria, so this is the only live release featuring Rick Allen before his accident. Def Leppard sound absolutely ferocious. Joe Elliot's voice is at its vocal-cord-shredding best, gargling glass like AC/DC. Steve Clark and Phil Collen (a new addition) rip and shred on their guitars and weave them into a wall of thunder. Allen and Rick Savage keep it rolling on the rhythm section, never letting up. Brian May of Queen shows up at the end for a CCR cover tune. Some of these songs have never been heard live on a CD: Indeed Leppard never play anything from On Through The Night anymore, and have limited their High 'N' Dry live repetoir to just "Brining On The Heartbreak" and the occassional "Switch 625". Before now, you could never get live versions of such awesome Leppard classics as "Mirror, Mirror", "Let It Go", or "Wasted" to name a few.
Pyromania being their third release, it would have been totally appropriate (and in hindsight very wise) to release this concert as a live album back in the 80's as the band buckled in for the very hard Hysteria recording sessions. For whatever reason, that didn't happen. At least we get to hear it now.